Adventures in Puppet-Making 101: The Neck and Body

I am going to be gluing the cloth neck tube today. This is the piece of material that your arm will be closest to. The body of the puppet will be placed over this. The neck piece is 17 inches long and 18 inches for the width about the skull. The material is an anti-pill fleece sewn into tube shape on a sewing machine. It is going to be connected at the bottom of the body and not at the shoulders.  The reasoning being that if it is connected at the shoulders the range of motion that you will get with turning the head will be severely limited.  If it is connected at the base of the body then in essence you are turning a tube within a bigger tube. The color of the material might also coincide with the color of the head so that when it’s all put together is not apparent that the head and neck are actually separate.

I started with the hot glue at the top hinge of the back of the mouth and then up and around the back of the skull to the other side. After that set, I hiked the material up about the lower jaw edges and cut a very small hole for the thumb passage.  I then helped some of the material into the lower jaw and over the thumb tube and hot glued it all down. Sounds confusing? It’s not. You will find your own way around these areas if you take time and care by checking fabric placement before gluing.

Next day: Now for the body.  I measured from my wrist to the elbow and got about 9 inches.  So I took a 9 x 16 x 1 inch piece of foam and glued into the shape of a tube.  The tube felt quite tight on my arm, much more so than I expected.  So I inserted 6 inches more foam to the width.  This makes the overall length of the foam 9 x 22 x 1 inch.  I then cut Y- shapes at the quarter marks of the piece to relieve the tension. Now the body is big. Really big.  A lot more than I want.  I’m going to have to rethink the body shape while still keeping the multiple arm elements that I have in my sketch.  The jaw was reworked again to relieve a very baggy corner on the left side. Basically, I took out a dart of foam with the electric knife and hot glued the cut back together.

Later: I have been thinking about the body shape for the last couple of days and opted to ditch a new design in favor of trying to do the simple basic shape again but this time with a half-inch foam.  This turned out successful.  I started with an approximate 18 inch long piece of foam 9 inches high which I glued into a tube that fit nicely on my arm this time. The thickness of the foam was the key.
Next time: Skin and hair!